Transcript – Deputy Prime Minister – Five AA Adelaide Interview

10 May 2021

9:48AM

E&OE

Subjects: The major infrastructure investment which forms part of the Federal Government’s National Economic Recovery Plan;

LEON BYNER

Michael McCormack, good morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, Leon.

LEON BYNER

Now, this infrastructure money, I think a lot of people would be very happy to see it, except that the Civil Contractors point out that this is money that was already promised and wasn’t delivered.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we only pay on states’ delivery and so states actually deliver. They’re the ones who run these projects. We provide the assistance and if there is work that hasn’t been completed, then that’s the way it operates that cheques are then, of course, only paid on outcomes. They’re only paid on milestones. But I’m happy to continue to work with Corey Wingard and the South Australian Government to make things happen, to get things built because that’s what the community expects and deserves.

LEON BYNER

So what project are we going to get?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I could run through the key projects to –

LEON BYNER

No, no, this amount of money that we’re being given today, what will it pay for? You’ve got a list in front of you of the specific projects or is this just a general amount of money which is –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It’s not just a wish list. They’re the ones that Corey and his team, Steven Marshall, of course, have prioritised and they’re the ones in South Australia which will support 5,000 direct and indirect jobs. They’re the ones, just like the other states and both the territories, that have been brought to us and we’ve agreed that need to be funded. And honestly, I would love to see shovels in the ground for some, if not all, of these projects today, if not tomorrow and that builds on, of course, the $110 billion that we’ve got in the pipeline over 10 years. This Budget is about securing Australia’s recovery and it’s about securing South Australia’s recovery as well.

LEON BYNER

So we’re looking at $161.4 million towards the Truro Bypass, is that right?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

$161.6 million actually for the Truro Bypass and I think people would see that project and say, “Well, that’s good. It’s about time. Let’s see work begin.” So I’ll work with Corey Wingard. He’s a good man. Spoke to him last night at length and he was pretty excited by the funding that we’ve allocated. As I say, 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, not just about the jobs on the ground and the stop-go person, the laying of the bitumen or cement or whatever the case might be. It’s also about the little diner down the road which is providing egg and bacon rolls for the workers on site. It’s about the motel accommodation, if they’re coming in from another region to work on those projects. It’s money that flows right throughout local communities. So I know the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, when he stands at that Despatch Box tomorrow at 7.30 he’s going to be having more to say about road safety upgrades, more to say about more money for local councils, of which there are many right across South Australia.

LEON BYNER

Now, we understand also that there’s going to be four kilometres of tunnels. When will we be getting those?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we’ve got to obviously wait for EIS and engineering and specs and all that to be done. But, look, we want to see these sorts of projects start. We’ve already got 100,000 workers supported by our $110 billion infrastructure roll out, it’s a pipeline over 10 years. What this adds to is the 30-31 Budget as well, it pushes it out by another year, it’s a rolling investment. I’d like to see whether it’s tunnels, whether it’s rail, whatever the case is – roads – getting built. So, obviously we work through the states. We work with those State Infrastructure Ministers, be they Labor, be they Liberal, I don’t care what colour their political stripe is, I just want to see work done and so do they. And that’s why we got the National Freight Code operating within hours, not days or weeks, because I do have a good relationship with them. I’m from the National Party. I’m, of course, all for the regions but I’m all for the regions operating and the national interest being absolutely what it needs to be. That’s what I’m about. My colleagues, who are either Labor or Liberal right throughout the country, they acknowledge the role that the Commonwealth plays and they’re also willing to work with me collaboratively.

LEON BYNER

So these are connected, these funds are connected to specific projects that have been approved or is it just, here’s the money, now you work out what you’re going to do with it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we provide the money for the states. They now have a building envelope, a financial plan. They then go and they contract these out to Tier 1, 2 and 3 operators. They sign the contracts and then we get the work started of course, according to the engineering and the specifications laid out, according to having all the environmental impact statements and cultural issues dealt with, they’re important, of course. But what’s also important is busting through congestion. What’s also important, of course, is those road safety upgrades in regional areas. And all too sadly, often our regional roads – we have regional people over-represented in the road toll statistics and that’s why I know that Josh Frydenberg is going to be making some more important announcements as far as road safety upgrades tomorrow night.

LEON BYNER

So this is not an announcement of a re-announcement?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Absolutely not. Its additional funding to go, $3.2 billion for major new projects announced in the 21-22 Federal Budget. I know Corey is very, very pleased with the outcome. Spoken to him, as I say, at length last night. Made sure that he knew just how we had addressed the priorities that he had put forward. He is a good man. He’s got a good team working with him in the infrastructure area there in South Australia and I know it’s going to be something that Steven Marshall has also advocated for tirelessly to make sure that South Australia can continue to be the great state it is.

LEON BYNER

That’s the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.

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